Shrewsbury Welsh Bridge

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Bridge

There are masonry footings remains

NameShrewsbury Welsh Bridge
Alternative NamesSt George's Bridge; Walshebrugge; Walshemanne's Brigge; Welch Bridge; Walche bridge
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishShrewsbury

Variously called St George's Bridge (1154-89), (1275-7), Walshebrugge (1336) and Walshemanne's Brigge in 1351. The bridge was superseded by the present Welsh Bridge in 1793-5 and was demolished in 1795. A cage of wood and pryveys erected in 1496-7, and taken down in 1576-7. Jervoise quotes Leland as saying 'the Welsh Bridge having six great arches of stone … hath at one end of it a great Gate to enter by into the town, and at the other end towards Wales a mighty strong towre'. The Welsh or St George's Gate, demolished in 1773, had a massive square battlemented tower with a guardroom. The Mardol Gate was demolished in 1791. There is a reference to the fall of the tower and of the great part of the gatehouse at the Welsh Bridge in 1672 (OS Record Card 1960 ref. Ward; Pearson; Jervoise).

Keele Beds sandstone remains standing a few metres inshore on Frankwell Quay are identifiable as the surviving dry arch, carriageway ramp, and abutment of the Old Welsh Bridge, visited and described by A W Ward in 1935 (p151, n.1)

The gate at the Welsh end of the bridge had a strong out-work and the battlements of the bridge adjacent were pierced with loops and were higher than the remainder. A massive square tower above. Taken down c 1770. The gate on the town side had massive machicolations on the north side over the pointed arch. Round turrets resting on the bridge piers flanked the entrance passage. The S face, built in 1539, was in classical style. Demolished 1791 (Owen).

The first historical reference to a pontem S. Georgii in Shrewsbury dates to c1160. This bridge lay upstream of the present Welsh Bridge, crossing the river from the foot of Mardol. There is a tradition that an even earlier bridge crossed from the bottom of Roushill Lane, but there is no firm evidence for this. The bridge was altered and repaired many times over the centuries. In its final form it appears to have had six main arches with a dry arch beneath the Frankwell abutment

Over the first pier from the Shrewsbury side stood a twin turreted gatehouse, reputedly dating to the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) and there was a smaller square gatehouse over the first wet arch from the Frankwell side. The Frankwell tower was demolished in 1773 because it obstruted traffic flow and the bridge was sold by auction for demolition in 1795, on condition that the bridge was dismantled to the level of the river bed, only the Frankwell dry arch being retained. Demolition took a while - a tourist noted that two arches were still standing in 1797. It is not known whether the final demolition was in fact as thorough as required by the terms of sale, and remains may still survive. On the Frankwell side the bridge approach may survive immediately east of the former chapel building: the roadway is raised up and retained by a sandstone wall which may be part of the dry arch of the bridge. Ward claims that in 1935 it was possible to enter the dry arch from the adjacent building. A photograph exists of the arch. (Shropshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

The current Welsh Bridge, dating from 1795, is in a different position to the medieval bridge.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ489127
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Watson, B., 2011, 'The Old Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury, England - a rediscovered fortified medieval bridge' in Marcus Prell (ed), Archäologie der Brücken (Archaeology of Bridges) (Pustet Friedrich Kg) p. 221-25
  • Ward, A.W., 1935, The Bridges of Shrewsbury (Shrewsbury: Wilding and Sons)
  • Jervoise, E., 1936, Ancient Bridges of Wales and the West of England (London; The Architectural Press for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) p. 132-135
  • Pearson, W., 1824, Select Views of the Antiquities of Shropshire plate 28 illustration of Old Welsh Bridge online copy
  • Owen, H.,1808, Some Account of the Ancient and Present State of Shrewsbury (Shrewsbury: P. Sandford) p. 79-83 online copy


  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 81 online copy
  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy)


  • Harrison, D., McKeague, P. and Watson, B., 2010, 'England's fortified medieval bridges and bridge chapels: a new survey' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 25 p. 45-51 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Rees, U. (ed), 1975, The Cartulary of Shrewsbury Abbey (National Library of Wales) No 42, No 47b


  • Bruce Watson, 2013 Sept, Gazetteer of fortified bridges (working list kindly shared with Gatehouse)